Monday, October 02, 2006

Woodward Exposes White House Lies

As I watched Mike Wallace's interview with Bob Woodward on '60 Minutes' last night, I actually had to focus myself a couple of times on what big news is in Woodward's new book because, like I suspect is true with most Americans, I'm simply on outrage overload and almost can't absorb any more of what a lying, crooked administration is running this country.

But even the most hard-core of the Bush Kool-Aid drinkers must find it difficult to ignore this: A book from a respected journalist -- whom many, including me, have accused of letting Bush off the hook for years -- coming out and saying about as plainly as possible that George W. Bush has repeatedly and knowingly lied to the American people about the state of the Iraq war.

The screenshot I'm showing is from the '60 Minutes' piece and shows a recently-declassified chart depicting the increase in insurgent attacks against coalition troops and Iraqis in the three years ending May 2006. Looks pretty damn definitive, doesn’t it? But that hasn’t stopped Team Bush from continuing to tell us that things are going just swell in Iraq and that the situation is steadily improving.

Here's Woodward from a piece he wrote in the September 30 Washington Post:
"On May 22, 2006, President Bush spoke in Chicago and gave a characteristically upbeat forecast: 'Years from now, people will look back on the formation of a unity government in Iraq as a decisive moment in the story of liberty, a moment when freedom gained a firm foothold in the Middle East and the forces of terror began their long retreat.'

"Two days later, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret intelligence assessment to the White House that contradicted the president's forecast.

"Instead of a 'long retreat,' the report forecast a more violent 2007: 'Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year.'

"A graph included in the assessment measured attacks from May 2003 to May 2006. It showed some significant dips, but the current number of attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces and Iraqi authorities was as high as it had ever been -- exceeding 3,500 a month. [In July the number would be over 4,500.] The assessment also included a pessimistic report on crude oil production, the delivery of electricity and political progress."
The data cited in that last paragraph is what I show in the graph above.

Wallace opened last night's story by going right to the main part of why Woodward's latest book, State of Denial, is going to be such a big deal. The book makes clear that, in addition to lying the United States into a war, Bush has continued to keep the truth from Americans.

"It is the oldest story in the coverage of government," said Woodward. "The failure to tell the truth."

Here's more:
Wallace: Woodward says the government had kept this trend secret for years before finally declassifying the graph just three weeks ago. And Woodward accuses president Bush and the pentagon of making false claims of progress in Iraq, claims contradicted by facts that are being kept secret. For example, Woodward says an intelligence report classified secret from the joint chiefs of staff concluded– in large print– that the Sunni Arab insurgency is gaining strength and increasing capacity despite political progress. And insurgents retain the capabilities to increase the level of violence through next year. But just two days later, a public defense department report said just the opposite: "Violent action will begin to wane in early 2007." What are we supposed to make of that?

Woodward: The truth is that the assessment by the intelligence experts is that next year– now, next year's 2007– is going to get worse, and in public you have the president and you have the pentagon saying, "oh, no, things are going to get better." Now there's public and then there's private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one's supposed to know. Why is that secret? The insurgents know what they're doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn't know? The American public.

Wallace: President Bush says over and over, as Iraqi forces stand up, U.S. Forces will stand down. The number of Iraqis in uniform today, I understand, is up to 300,000?

Woodward: They've stood up from essentially zero to 300,000. This is the military and the police.

Wallace: But U.S. Forces are not standing down. The attacks keep coming.

Woodward: They've stood up and up and up, and we haven't stood down. And it's worse.
My favorite part of the entire interview was the aside made by Woodward about Democratic Congressman -- and highly-decorated Veteran -- John Murtha, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Bush Iraq policy.

"John Murtha is, in many ways, the soul and the conscience of the military," said Woodward. "And he came out and said, 'we need to get out of Iraq as soon as it's practical.' And that sent a 10,000-volt jolt through the White House."

That must be why the Republican party has revved up the Swift Boats to come after Murtha so hard, all the while lying and breaking faith with the American people.

Woodward ends the interview by painting a picture of Bush as someone totally divorced from reality and committed to Iraq in a manner bordering on obsessive insanity.

"Late last year, he had key Republicans up to the White House to talk about the war and said, 'I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me,'" said Woodward. "Barney is his dog. My work on this leads to lots of people who spend hours, days with the president. And in most cases, they are my best sources. And there is a concern that we need to face realism, not being the voice that says, 'oh, no, everything's fine' when it's not."

You can see an extended video clip of the interview at AlterNet.